These incredibly tasty Turkey Stuffed Peppers are always a huge hit and are just as good served warm or at room temperature. Gluten free and high in protein, the filling for these colourful stuffed peppers is made with ground turkey, onion, garlic, tomatoes, rice, feta, and olives. They’re healthy, hearty, filling, and super easy to throw together.
Stuffed peppers of all variations are a favourite lunch and dinner meal in our household all throughout the year. But when the sweet bell pepper extravaganza hits the farmers markets in late summer, I quite literally go crazy making stuffed peppers. They’re not only easy to make, but they are endlessly adaptable, and straight-up crowd-pleasers. I know, most of us do not/should not have crowds to feed right now, but I still make extras for a weeks-worth of lunches because they are even better when re-heated the next day.
About This Stuffed Pepper Recipe
The stuffed peppers I share with you today are one of our absolute favourites with a bit of a Mediterranean flair. The filling is a hearty combination of ground turkey, onion, garlic, tomatoes, rice blend, feta, and olives. Spiced with oregano, cumin, and paprika the filling is completely irresistible, even without the peppers.
Pre-roasting the peppers is key to getting them perfectly soft and tender, without falling apart. Once stuffed, they take another trip back into the oven to roast again until the filling is heated through and the peppers have become intensely sweet and slightly charred on the edges, a mere 15 minutes or so. Smoky, tender, healthy, and heaping with their fragrant filling, these turkey stuffed peppers have the perfect exchange of flavour and combination of textures. So, so good and perfect for a fairly quick weeknight dinner.
You can easily adapt this recipe to suit your taste and you will find lots of suggestions in this post. I hope you give them a try soon, I just know they will become an old faithful.
The majority of ingredients for these turkey stuffed peppers are pantry staples so don’t let the somewhat long list dissuade you from making them.
- Bell peppers – I like to use red, yellow, or orange peppers because they are sweeter but you can use green if you prefer. This recipe calls for 4 large peppers. If you use 3 you will have a quite a bit of filling leftover. In this case, you can freeze the leftover filling for a later use. You can also use 6 small peppers.
- Extra virgin olive oil – For coating the peppers and for cooking the filling.
- Onion and garlic – This recipe calls for 1 diced onion and 4 garlic cloves. You can replace the garlic cloves with 2 tsp. garlic powder if you wish to keep things easier.
- Spices and seasoning – I like to use oregano, cumin, paprika and a pinch of cayenne pepper (the latter is optional – but adds a little complexity without making the filling spicy). The filling benefits from a generous seasoning of salt and pepper, to taste.
- Canned tomatoes – You can use fresh tomatoes but to keep it simple I used canned diced tomatoes. I really like this brand. If the canned tomatoes you have are very thick, add a few tablespoons of extra water to the mix.
- Tomato paste – Just a tablespoon for a little more depth of flavour.
- Rice – I had some cooked wild rice blend leftover in the fridge so that is what I used. You can absolutely use any other cooked grain you like such as brown rice, long grain white rice, quinoa, freekeh, or farro. However, if you don’t have a pre-cooked grain on hand, choose one that cooks quickly such as quinoa or white rice.
- Kalamata olives – I love olives so I throw them in but leave them out if they aren’t your thing.
- Feta – These stuffed peppers are certainly tasty enough not to need any cheese. But hey, a little salty cheese is always a bonus.
- Fresh parsley – Any fresh herb will add a little brightness to this stuffed pepper dish. I used chopped parsley but mint, oregano, or dill would also be great.
How To Cut And Prepare The Peppers
You can cut the peppers any way you like but here are my suggestions on how to cut and prepare them so they make the best vessel for stuffing:
Cut the peppers: I like slicing the peppers in half lengthwise, as opposed to cutting off the top. They are much easier to stuff this way, won’t topple over when roasted, are easier to eat, and easier to store if you have leftovers.
Prepare the peppers: Once peppers are cut horizontally, cut out the membrane (white centre) and remove the seeds. Leave the stem attached which helps keep the peppers sturdy and prevents them from collapsing too much when cooked.
How to Make Turkey Stuffed Peppers
The trick to making this dish a weeknight-friendly meal, is to prepare your filling while the peppers pre-roast in the oven. Once stuffed, the peppers will be ready in just 15 minutes, or less.
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
- Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise and remove seeds and pith but leave the stem attached. Drizzle olive oil over the peppers and use your hands to coat the insides and outsides. Arrange peppers cut-side up in a rimmed baking sheet. (Line the baking sheet with parchment paper for easier cleanup.) Roast until tender but not browned, about 15-20 minutes.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil until just shimmering. Add onion and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the ground turkey
Add in the ground turkey, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon. Season it with the cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Continue cooking until turkey is evenly browned, about 5 minutes.
- Reduce to medium heat and mix in the tomatoes, tomato paste, and 1/2 cup water. Cook for another 5 minutes, or until tomatoes have cooked down.
- Remove from heat and add the cooked wild rice blend (or other grain) and Kalamata olives, if using. Mix well to combine.
- Remove the roasted peppers from the oven and stuff peppers with meat mixture. Sprinkle with feta cheese and return to the oven. Roast stuffed peppers for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges of the bell peppers appear slightly charred. Note: You can roast the stuffed pepper in the same baking sheet you used to pre-roast the peppers. However, I like to roast the stuffed peppers in a deeper roasting pan which prevents the filling from drying out.
A Few Tips
- Leave the stem on the peppers. This will help keep the peppers sturdy and prevent them from collapsing too much when cooked.
- Don’t skip pre-cooking the peppers. You really want your stuffed peppers to be tender and slightly smoky when you eat them. Pre-roasting the peppers for about 15 minutes will to prevent the stuffing from getting over-cooked.
- Use a pre-cooked grain, or a quick-cooking grain. The filling for these stuffed peppers comes together fairly fast. Using leftover cooked grains from a previous day is a great shortcut. Otherwise, choose a quick-cooking grain like quinoa or white rice.
- Season the filling generously. If your filling tastes good outside of the pepper, it will taste even better once inside. If it tastes bland, it will still be bland once inside the pepper. Make sure to taste it and season it well before you stuff your peppers.
- Don’t lose the pepper juices! When you pull the un-stuffed, pre-roasted peppers out of the oven you will notice the juices have pooled on the inside. Don’t tip the peppers over or you will lose those juices. Once you stuff the peppers, the filling will drink in all those delicious juices becoming even more flavourful.
- Pack the peppers! The filling will shrink considerably while cooking so be sure to really get that filling into every nook and cranny of your pepper. Otherwise, you will have a lot of leftover filling and peppers that don’t look very stuffed at all.
As I mentioned before, these turkey stuffed peppers are endlessly adaptable. Here’s a few suggestions:
- Make them vegan: Omit the ground turkey and feta and brown a bit of tempeh or tofu instead. You can also add some chopped toasted walnuts and/or sautéed garlicky mushrooms.
- Add some greens: I love to add chopped baby spinach to the filling. Unfortunatley, I was all out and due to stay at home orders, I didn’t dash out to grab some. Also great with chopped kale or chard.
- Add nuts: Again, I thought I had pine nuts but refrained from running out to get them. I love the crunch and flavour of pine nuts in the stuffed peppers, but walnuts or almonds would also be good.
- Use a different meat: Replace the ground turkey with lean ground beef, chicken, or lamb.
- Use a different cheese: I love salty feta but a melty mozzarella or cheddar would also be fabulous. Grated parmesan is another favourite.
What to Serve With Turkey Stuffed Peppers
These turkey stuffed peppers make for a healthy, hearty and filling main course all on their own. If you need a side dish, try them with this Greek Salad or this simple cucumber salad. A very simple green salad is also great alongside the peppers, and easy to throw together while the peppers cook.
You can also pair stuffed peppers with sliced tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and vinegar (my favourite!).
The peppers can be assembled and baked the next day: Pre-roast the peppers, stuff them, then place in the refrigerator, tightly covered, to bake the next day. Another option is to bake the stuffed peppers, then store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, tightly covered, and reheat as needed.
Alternatively, you can prepare and cook the peppers and filling, then store separately in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Then simply assemble and roast the stuffed peppers when ready to use.
To re-heat: Place peppers in a pre-heated, 400ºF oven for about 15-20 minutes. You can also microwave them in a covered dish, for a few minutes or until heated through.
To Freeze: The stuffed peppers will freeze well for up to 2 months. Thaw them overnight in your fridge before baking in a preheated 400ºF oven for about 20 minutes. Alternatively, transfer the peppers directly from the freezer to a pre-heated oven, adding at least 15 more minutes of roasting time.
Other Favorite Weeknight Suppers
If you give these Turkey Stuffed Peppers a try, please feel free to leave a comment and/or a star rating below. We appreciate and welcome all your feedback. Thank you!
- 4 sweet bell peppers (red, yellow, or orange - can use green bell peppers but they will be less sweet)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1 medium onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pound lean ground turkey
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt plus more to taste
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 14½-ounce can diced tomatoes, plus 1/2 cup water (*see notes)
- 2 cups cooked rice or other cooked grain such as quinoa, white rice, brown rice, farro, etc. (**See notes.)
- 1/2 cup pitted and sliced Kalmata olives optional
- 1 cup diced feta or other cheese such as Monterey jack, pepper jack cheese, mozzarella, or cheddar
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish (can also use oregano, mint, or dill)
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
- Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise and remove seeds and pith but leave the stem attached. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over the peppers and use your hands to coat the insides and outsides. Arrange peppers cut-side up in a rimmed baking sheet. (Line the baking sheet with parchment paper for easier cleanup.) Roast until tender but not browned, about 15-20 minutes.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm remaining tablespoon of olive oil until just shimmering. Add onion and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.
- Add in the ground turkey, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon. Season it with the cumin, oregano, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Continue cooking until turkey is evenly browned, about 5 minutes.
- Reduce heat to medium and mix in the tomato paste, diced tomatoes, and 1/2 cup water. Cook for another 5 minutes, or until tomatoes have cooked down.
- Remove from heat and add the cooked rice (or other grain) and Kalamata olives, if using. Mix well to combine. Taste the filling and adjust the seasoning; add more salt and pepper or a bit more spices, if necessary.
- Remove the roasted peppers from the oven and stuff peppers with meat mixture. Sprinkle with feta cheese, or other cheese, and return the peppers to the oven. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges of the bell peppers appear slightly charred. Serve warm, or at room temperature, garnished with fresh parsley, if using.
- You can roast the stuffed pepper in the same baking sheet you used to pre-roast the peppers. However, I like to roast the stuffed peppers in a deeper roasting pan which prevents the filling from drying out.
- 1 cup of dry rice will yield about 2 1/2 cups of cooked rice. However, depending on the brand and method of cooking, this measurement can vary.
- I like to serve two halves per person.
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